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Reflections on John Lewis from Koinonia Members

July 2020

Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights leader and U.S. Representative, died Friday, July 17. He dedicated his life to the fight for equal rights for all. Among many other Civil Rights protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins, Lewis led the Selma March for voting rights across in the Edmund Pettis Bridge in 1965. He continued to protest and demonstrate throughout his career in the House of Representatives. His perseverance in the face of violence and oppression serves as an inspiration and his legacy will live on in those who continue the fight for equality.
After his death, Koinonia members reflected on John Lewis’ life and legacy.

Refection on John Lewis by Norris
I once had to speak with Bren Dubay in Independence Missouri at a Church of Christ Conference and the topic of my speech was Living in the Future of a Dream. That speech was based on Martin Luther King speech, and one man marching with Dr. King was John Lewis. Today and in the past time his position in politics and human right issues have been recognized and respected all over this country. A couple of years ago he was the speaker at the Local NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in Americus and one thing he said was that we have marched and it is now time to run to polls and vote.

At that time I only could look back and see a young man like John Lewis crossing that bridge and suffering the brutality that they all encountered. But that did lead to something, a Congressman, a young man of great courage standing up for the rights of himself and others. Being on the front line, you are expected to suffer first and that’s what he did, took the punishment and still marched on.

So that also puts us in the future of the dream, Dr. King was not alone but had other courageous men around him and one was John Lewis. Myself, my children, grand, and great grand share in the future that men like John Lewis marched for. The betterment of his race in a harsh society was no easy task, but the fruit of his efforts are recognized by many in the world today.

Those events and the courage it took in those days back then has afforded many opportunities for all people in these days. One can only change the vowels in the word “those” and “these” and recognize the difference in the times. But yet and still as Congressman Lewis said in these days we got to run to the poles and vote! I don’t think from that young age he was in Alabama to the age he was at his death, he ever gave up the fight for human dignity.

“I don’t know of any greater testament to the spirit of John Lewis than the many videos of him dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”. Lewis was ridiculed, beaten, and imprisoned for fighting for the civil rights of African-Americans. He gave his whole life to a country that oftentimes reviled him. Yet, he maintained a spirit of love, joy, and peace. He will be missed.”  -Steve

“He was a true man, he reminds me of Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks John Lewis, you will not be forgotten.” – Gloria

“We lost an ally. John Lewis was one of the good ones. It’s humbling to imagine how many lives have been positively affected by the actions and words of this one man. It’s tragic that racism exists. I pray there are others willing and able to pick up his torch.” -Sandy

Faith is being so sure of what the spirit has whispered in your heart that your belief in its eventuality is unshakable.  — John Lewis
“My prayer is that you are doing your Happy Dance with the angels and saints in heaven. Thank you John Robert Lewis.” – Bren

“John Lewis was a drum major for justice and equality for all people regardless of color and creed  He spent most of his life serving for peace for all mankind. I was honored to be in his presence at the NAACP Banquet at South Georgia Technical College in 2019. His legacy will always live in our hearts️.  He was knocked down, but he always got back up for 80 years.” -Kathleen

John Lewis: A Role Model By Elizabeth

I’ve known about John Lewis most of my life. Bloody Sunday–the march at the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma, Alabama–was especially meaningful to me because my mom and dad lived in Selma in the late 1950s. I was proud of that connection.

My first real relationship with John Lewis began in 1986 when I moved to Atlanta. I had the honor of voting for him in his first Congressional election. He was a close friend of the Open Door Community, an intentional Christian community in Atlanta, where I lived and worked for 15 years. We often saw Lewis on the streets, and he always greeted us warmly.

At the Open Door, we were outspoken advocates for homeless people in the City of Atlanta, prisoners in the State of Georgia, and the poor everywhere. I was arrested 9 times in various civil disobedience actions. While I never came close to John Lewis’ arrest record, I always saw him as my mentor, and was even arrested for Parading Without a Permit, a charge shared with him. That was the only case we won, when we fought it as unconstitutional. The judge used Civil Rights era Supreme Court rulings to grant us a victory in our not guilty plea.

Over the years, I heard John Lewis speak many times, and I was always thrilled to listen as he told stories about preaching to his chickens and the profound influence of his grandmother on his life.

It is so inspiring to me to know of his 60-year-legacy of creating “good trouble” for freedom. I hope that I can be some small part of his continuing legacy.

When I heard the news of John Lewis’ death, I cried. I will miss his leadership in this country, which is so wracked by division. May his life continue to be a call for justice and freedom.

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